Bananas: from plantation to plate
2nd June, 2008
What could be more cheerful than this ubiquitous breakfast fruit? But if you’re not buying them Fairtrade and organic, argues Ed Hamer, then you’re buying into a modern agricultural scandal
In the early hours of 16 March 2007, three agricultural labourers, Alexander Zuñiga, Marco Borges and Jamie Juárez, began their day’s work on the Chiquita-owned Coyol banana plantation in northern Costa Rica. The men had been busy harvesting and gathering the unripe bunches of fruit for about an hour when they realised that another team of workers had also been assigned to their section, spraying the fruit with nematicide to control pests.
Within minutes, two of the men had been overcome with the effects of pesticide poisoning and were immediately taken by the other workers to a clinic, where one remained under observation, on a drip, for several hours. The following day, on reporting the incident to their supervisors and holding them accountable, the men were summoned by the company management for a disciplinary hearing and dismissed for misconduct.
Less than a week later, heads of state from across the ‘free’ world joined the British government in celebrating the bicentenary of The Slavery Abolition Act 1807. Speaking at a Downing Street reception, Tony Blair labelled the 18th-century exploitation of indigenous peoples as ‘one of the most shameful...
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